A charity which helps farmers hit by extreme weather says it will take years for livestock producers to recover from flash floods in Yorkshire.
Forage Aid founder Andrew Ward described the area around Reeth, in the Yorkshire Dales, as a “war zone” during a visit to a local farm hit by the floods.
Sheep were drowned and silage lost as parts of the region received up to 115mm of rain in just three hours on Tuesday 30 July.
Posting pictures of the aftermath on social media, Mr Ward said nothing could have prepared him for his visit to the area.
“The destruction is immense and will take years for the farmers to recover,” he said.
Nothing could prepare me for my visit yesterday to Reeth in the Yorks dales, the destruction is immense and will take years for the farmers to recover from. That’s what 115mm of rain does in only 3 hours. This farm was the worst hit. @forageaid #FarmersHelpingFarmers pic.twitter.com/MamuER4lcm
— Andrew Ward 🇬🇧🚜 🥛🥩 (@wheat_daddy) August 4, 2019
Visiting the Yorkshire Dales brought home the extent of the damage, which was worse than the pictures shown on television, said Mr Ward.
Initial assessments suggest forage which has been washed away or damaged is not a major issue at the moment because it was destined for winter feed.
But Mr Ward said disposal of the damaged bales was a “major concern” to every farmer he met – because some of them were contaminated with raw sewage.
Livestock losses were minimised due to most sheep being up on the fells.
But much of the grass on lower fields had been contaminated with lead, as rainwater cascaded off the top of the hills, sewage from a burst pipe and heating fuel from local homes.
This meant it would be difficult for lambs to be brought down off the fells and separated from the ewes – as usually happens at this time of year.
Forage Aid said many fields were covered in boulders and silt which had washed down from the hills, destroying stone walls and fencing.
One farmer had lost 160 sheep, with many found dead in trees – carried there by the floods and left in the branches as the water subsided.
Machinery had also been damaged and rendered unusable, after being buried under feet of silt.
Uncontaminated grazing land was top of the wish list for most farmers, said Forage Aid, which urged anyone nearby to get in touch it they had any spare time.